cover image River


Elisha Cooper. Orchard, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-31226-3

Seen from a distance, a woman in a canoe waves goodbye to people on the shore and sets out on a journey: “Three hundred miles stretch in front of her.” She’s paddling the Hudson River from the Adirondacks to the Atlantic Ocean. Sweeping pencil-and-watercolor layers trace rocks crowding the river and clouds crossing the sky. The woman’s solitude is underscored in lyrical prose: “There is nothing in the world but her, the bird, this place. No one knows where she is.” Cooper (Big Cat, Little Cat) makes the difficulties of the expedition clear: “She staggers—the canoe balancing on her shoulders—down the steep gravel path next to the dam. She trips, drops the canoe.” When she reaches the city, lively scenes greet her as all kinds of traffic plies the waters around Manhattan. As she completes the last, most dangerous part of the voyage out to the Atlantic, readers share in the paddler’s satisfaction. The woman changes during her journey, and the Hudson does, too, growing from mountain cataract to mighty waterway. An author’s note fills in a bit about the river’s history, but in this expansive, beautifully rendered offering, the attention is all on the voyage and the moments, tender and tense, that comprise it. Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]